Seventeen players were selected in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
Most Orioles fans only care about one.
Pitcher Steve Johnson, acquired with third baseman Josh Bell from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade, was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 23rd pick in the first round.
“We knew it was a possibility,” said Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations. “The kid is clearly a prospect. I don’t think there’s any question about that. The question is going to be whether he can stick with the 25-man roster over the course of an entire season. There were 17 guys that were selected. The odds are maybe a quarter of them might stick, or they make a trade to keep them in the system. But it’s part of the game, and it’s a reflection that our initial judgment was not wrong in thinking that the kid is a prospect. We just don’t think he’s that close, but we still like him.”
The Giants paid $50,000 to claim Johnson. They can receive half their payment if they offer him back to the Orioles.
“This is about as cheap a gamble as a team can take,” MacPhail said. “You’re really risking $25,000. If you put that in terms of an amateur draft, that’s a kid way down in the selections. But our judgment was he wasn’t really close enough to be able to stick with a big league club.”
MacPhail knows this won’t be a popular transaction in Baltimore. The Orioles lost a pitching prospect and a local kid.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “The odds are, just based on what happens in this draft and nothing specific to Steve, that we’ll get him back because that’s what happens in these things. The vast majority come back to their original clubs.”